Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Photo Credits: A Field Journal

During the holiday season, I truly enjoy embracing "the reason for the season" in an old fashioned and traditional manner and eagerly look forward for the time to come when I can create and establish traditions for my very own family during the holidays. From Christmas caroling, to candlelit church services, to tree trimming, to a parade of lights, and holiday baking, nothing is as magical as the Christmas season. I love to reminisce on the holiday memories of my own childhood and while there are many, I most profoundly remember my mother having "It's a Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas" on constant repeat during the holidays. A tradition I am sure to carry on myself.

As we celebrate the magic of Christmas this year, I hope that you will be inspired to create and carry on your own holiday traditions for years to come for your family. What is significant to you during the holidays? What defines Christmas for you? What traditions and memories do you hope to pass down to your own family? For me, I revel in the ways and traditions of the past and I genuinely appreciate the simplistic traditions of the holidays. I wish you all a delightful holiday season and joyous new year! Merry Christmas to one and all!

A Christmas Story

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

--Matthew 1:18 - 2:23 New International Version

Photo Credits: Country Living


Friday, December 18, 2009

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, III

Using a small pastry brush, paint cookie in desired base color. Allow base to dry if sugaring or piping decoration. Leave wet if creating holly leaves, holly leaf garland, heart, or heart garland. Continue to decorate if using wet.

To make 4 cones: With a large piece of parchment in front of you, cut off each corner, forming 4 right triangles.

Using your left hand, hold down the left top corner of the triangle. Using your right hand, roll the bottom right corner, making a cone shape; hold tightly in place.

Using your left hand, wrap the left corner over the cone, securing the overhang by folding downward into the cone.

Fill the cone 2/3 full of desired colored royal icing. Secure top of the cone by folding the excess at the top down, pressing icing down into bottom of cone.

Pipe desired effects onto cookie. Allow to dry, if necessary.

If sugaring, sprinkle sugar onto wet piping, shaking off excess.

Using parchment cone, pipe dashes with green royal icing onto wet cookie.

Using a toothpick, pull perpendicularly on both sides of the dashes.

Add red dots for holly berries. If creating a holly garland, pipe dashes in a line going in a zigzag pattern, leaving space for berries in between, as desired.

Photo Credits: Victoria

Pipe a contrasting colored dot onto wet base of cookie. Using a toothpick, pull through the middle of each dot to create heart shape. Create a garland of hearts by lining up dots and drawing toothpick through dots in one direction in a single motion.


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, II

I was so inspired by our lovely winter wonderland photo shoot that I wanted to share even more charming Christmas inspiration! Happy baking!

Photo Credits: Victoria

Sugar Cookies: [Makes about 36 cookies]

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 recipe Vanilla Icing
Assorted colored dragées, assorted colored

1. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer at low speed, beat the butter and sugar together until blended. Increase speed to high, and beat until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix until blended.
2. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, and flatten each portion into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until dough is firm enough to roll. Alternatively, freeze the dough for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350˚. On a lightly floured surface, roll the first half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. With floured 3- and 4-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into as many cookies as possible; gather, wrap, and refrigerate scraps. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Repeat process with the second half of the dough and then with the scraps.
5. When cookies are cool, prepare Vanilla Icing. Decorate cookies with icing, dragées, nonpareils, and sanding sugars, if desired. Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely, about 1 hour.
6. Store in a tightly covered container with parchment paper between layers if cookies are decorated. Cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Vanilla Icing:

1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon meringue powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Assorted food colorings

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the water and meringue powder together until frothy. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar, and beat until smooth, then stir in vanilla extract.
2. Separate mixture into several small bowls, then add food coloring to achieve desired colors. Use small pastry brushes to paint cookies with icing.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

As a newlywed myself, there is something so magical about celebrating a first Christmas together! I may be a hopeless romantic, but I find so much happiness, excitement, and joy in creating memorable "first moments" together with my husband. It just gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling deep down inside. And today's featured couple, Kristi & Kevin, really took to the idea of creating quite a memorable first Christmas spent together with their charming winter wonderland photo shoot. How adorable are they?


Photo Credits: Style Me Pretty

I heart this photo shoot in a big way and I'm usually not one to get all excited for a winter setting! However, this lovely photo shoot seriously makes me gush with excitement and I am thinking I just might have to replicate it myself! As if they were straight out of a J.Crew Catalog, Kristi & Kevin are just the picture perfect couple. Shot by Laura Ivanova Photography (Minneapolis, MN), the couple used a tree farm in Minneapolis, Minnesota as their backdrop so that they would always remember their first Christmas together. Love, love, love!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Royal Sweet Shoppe, III

We are so thrilled to share our latest piece of heavenly bliss with you all! As a final wrap-up on our discussion, we have created a fabulous vintage 8mm slideshow of all things that encompass The Royal Sweet Shoppe. Oh, how sweet it is!

Let our sweet imagination bring fantasy and enchantment to your next event with our couture candy buffet packages and sweet delicacies.

Press the Play button on the music box below to hear mellow tunes as you enjoy our charming slideshow!

It has truly been our pleasure introducing you to The Royal Sweet Shoppe and we sincerely hope we can be of assistance to you in the near future for any and all special occasions! Please contact Jacquelyn Chiovari at or by phone at (312) 725-GALA for more information!


The Royal Sweet Shoppe, II

Without further ado, we delightfully introduce to you The Royal Sweet Shoppe ...

Photo Credits: The Royal Sweet Shoppe

Q: What is The Royal Sweet Shoppe?

A: The Royal Sweet Shoppe is a "nostalgic nod" to confectionery traditions and specifically selected sweets from around the world. We believe that small delicious treats and the company of family and friends are a lovely and affordable way to celebrate any occasion. We provide couture candy buffets and delectable sweets for all occasions. Pairing an eclectic mix of vintage glam décor with the style and flair of provincial France, The Royal Sweet Shoppe is a premiere resource for a one-of-a-kind dessert table.

Q: What type of affairs does The Royal Sweet Shoppe cater to?

A: Whether you are planning a sophisticated soirée, a stylish wedding, a whimsical birthday, or an elegant engagement party, The Royal Sweet Shoppe will create something unforgettably sweet for you and your guests.

Q: What is one word (or small phrase) that best describes your brand and/or your work?

A: Whimsical! I absolutely believe in fairy tales and happily ever afters and I enjoy creating whimsical and chic designs that enable others to elicit their own sense of fantasy. At The Royal Sweet Shoppe, it’s all about indulging in an evening of make-believe with gourmet candy and sweet delicacies. I love to aesthetically blend soft color palettes with vintage glam décor and a plethora of nostalgic confections.

Q: Can The Royal Sweet Shoppe offer me more beyond a candy buffet or dessert table?

A: The Royal Gala, sister company to The Royal Sweet Shoppe, is a lavish event planning boutique firm specializing in the art of creating whimsical and chic events. With a vintage and glamorous aesthetic, The Royal Gala is available to creatively produce and orchestrate every aspect of your affair to a charming and sophisticated end. Whether you are in need of hourly consultation, day of event coordination, invitations, or couture favors, we offer a variety of custom event services that can be specifically modified for your needs.

Q: What are some up and coming projects that The Royal Sweet Shoppe is currently developing?

A: We are constantly working to put a modern day twist on an old concept: dessert tables. Our unique and one-of-a-kind candy cart has allowed us to soar to new heights with candy buffet displays. We provide more of an enchanted look with our sweet services; by blending vintage décor with whimsical accessories our staged designs create a mood of nostalgia.

The Royal Sweet Shoppe's unique French market candy cart

Photo Credits: The Royal Sweet Shoppe

We are so tickled with our new package available to our clientele: “The Royal Ice Cream Parlor”. Oh, how I wish I could have lived in the era of the 50’s! From poodle skirts, to root beer floats, to hot fudge sundaes; we have whipped up our very own ice cream parlor that enables guests to build their own sundaes. Pure bliss! We will soon be releasing a sneak peek of our inspiration behind The Royal Ice Cream Parlor!

Q: What is one thing that you wish everyone knew about your industry?

A: Entertaining is becoming more and more of an intimate business. It’s truly the small, quaint, and independent businesses that make the world of weddings and entertaining so unique today. Creating a memorable event is all about balancing the personality of the hostess and the occasion for which an event has been planned. I enjoy getting to know our clients on a personal level and learning about the simple pleasures in their own lives and how I can infuse those elements into their special event. Never underestimate your smaller resources!

Photo credits: Kiss the Groom, The Royal Sweet Shoppe, Style Me Pretty, Wendy Addison Studio, Amy Atlas, Miette, Eat Drink Chic

Stayed tuned! Our next feature on The Royal Sweet Shoppe is so delicious we are just giddy with excitement to share it with you!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Royal Sweet Shoppe

Today we are unveiling a look inside The Royal Sweet Shoppe and I am gushing with excitement to share my sweet world with you all! I spend much of my time focused on the aesthetic elements and couture designs that define The Royal Sweet Shoppe, our brand, and what we have to offer in a forever changing industry. To be completely honest, it's a bit more challenging than one might imagine.

In the social media world that we live in today, one can find a plethora of inspiration online to help develop concepts and ideas to drive one's business. From blogs to websites, the networking community within the Internet is an invaluable resource! It's now easier than ever to get your brand out there, to establish a strong reputation, and a sense of authority within your own realm of business. Convenient? Yes! However, it's a catch22. In order to survive and thrive in today's business world, one must creatively inspire on a level all their own. So, with constant and ever growing competition I aspire to remind myself each and every day of my goals and plans for both The Royal Gala and The Royal Sweet Shoppe and to focus on that alone. Truth of the matter, it just really boils down to, "knowing what you do and doing it really well!"

I was recently asked to "bake" up a blog that dwelt into all things that encompass The Royal Sweet Shoppe and to highlight our whimsical vision for the company. I jumped with excitement at such a sweet idea! An opportunity to define what it is that we do and to eximplify how we turn inspiration into reality! I am so proud to be progressing with our business and we have an assortment of ideas that we plan on implementing within our services in the near future. Very exciting!

So please, sit back, relax, grab a cup of Joe and enjoy The Royal Sweet Shoppe!

Photo Credits: Jeff & Julia Photography


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Purely Couture, Evian Prêt-à-Porter 2008

I'm a style savvy kind of a gal and I absolutely love fancy bottled water, especially fancy bottled water from France nonetheless! When I used to live in central France, I had access to some of the most fantastic bottled water available! Fresh spring water that you typically pay a chunk of change for in any gourmet grocery store today. Honestly, I do appreciate more than just the fancy bottle, pretty packaging, and celebrity endorsers; I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that my water is as pure as nature intended it to be.

However, this changes everything! Who would have thought that Evian water and haute couture fashion designer Christian Lacroix would make such a perfect pairing? {Sigh}, This is magnificent! And I own 36 bottles and counting...

Photo Credits: Luxist

Every year, the brilliant marketing and production designing team of Evian pair up with a fashion designer to create festive limited edition water bottle designs to celebrate the holiday season. Genius! In 2008, Evian revealed two holiday collection bottles, Evian Prêt-à-Porter and Evian Haute Couture. Evian Prêt-à-Porter has a frosted lace pattern over the bottle and the over the top Haute Couture version is a glass bottle in the shape of an ice queen with a voluminous alpine skirt. Only 99 bottles were produced of the Haute Couture design and they were auctioned off for charity starting at $1000! The Prêt-à-Porter bottles were sold to gourmet grocery stores and were tagged for $13.95. A bit pretentious for water? I beg to differ!

These couture treasures can be packaged elegantly and passed around as gifts during the holiday season or even used as delightful favors for your holiday events and parties.

Tip of the day: Attach a gorgeous name tag to the bottle and use the bottle as both your place card setting and as your favor for your guests. The delicate snowflake and lace like border of the glass bottle will be that finishing touch, that you bring to your holiday table! Purely couture!


Monday, December 7, 2009

All That Glitters, II

Introducing, vintage glitter houses {Sigh}! Aren't they absolutely divine? I simply L-O-V-E the perfect pairing of vintage decor accessories and the soft pastel color palette, just heavenly! And all that glitter is breathtaking! From retro bottlebrush trees with ornament balls to vintage tinsel and trim, these delicate little treasures instantly create a mood of holiday nostalgia!

Whimsical art designers, Bethany Lowe and Cody Foster, have absolutely perfected the look of vintage glitter houses, at a pricey penny nonetheless! They typically blend soft color tones and old world materials with an eclectic mix of European glitter, imported from Germany. Covered with drifting snow, these charming houses are sure to bring a bit of whimsy to your holiday season.

Photo Credits: Christmas Traditions, A Field Journal

I am so excited to be sharing these serendipitous designs with you as they have made a BIG impact on our holiday packaging at The Royal Sweet Shoppe! With the use of vintage glitter houses, we will be debuting our whimsical holiday packaging next year, but believe me, these little treasures will be worth the wait!


All That Glitters

Today on The Royal Scoop, we have a gorgeous feature full of my new found obsession and I am so delighted to share it with you all! I must admit that I love stepping outside of the box with the traditionally bold red and green Christmas decor. Instead, I prefer to put a bit more whimsy into the holiday season and celebrate Christmas with girly touches and in a flirtatious manner with soft pastel pinks, winter whites, and all that glitters.

Photo Credits: Wendy Addison Studio

Today's feature is not only pure eye candy for the holiday season, but a retro twist on the standard bold decor of Christmas. I can not wait for the time to come when I can 'deck my own halls' with all that glitters! Stay tuned!